Last Sunday, Pastor Connie introduced us to our new sermon series, which we’re entitling “TALL TREES, DEEP ROOTS.” She talked about our magnificent California Coastal Redwood and Giant Sequoia trees, which are the tallest and largest living things in the world. Recently, we’ve been asking you to identify your favorite Bible verses, those you repeatedly turn to in times of trial and testing. Pastor Connie compared these to tall trees that stand out in a landscape and inspire us. We will focus on some of the Tall Trees in the Bible that you’ve identified during the next few Sundays.

I’ve started thinking about some of the things that are important about our California tall trees and how these shed light on the analogy to our Tall Tree favorite verses in the Bible:

(1) Tall Trees help you find your way. Reading the Bible may sometimes feel like going through a jungle. The path may seem unclear in places, and there are a lot of brambles (ancient names, places, historical facts) that seem to get in our way. But getting a clear view of one of those Tall Tree verses can reassure us we’re going in the right direction.

(2) Tall Trees are tall because they’re reaching for the sunlight. This is literally a fact in nature. The leafiest branches are near the top, where they can escape life’s dark shadows and gather light energy needed to produce food necessary for life and growth. When we focus on one of the Bible’s Tall Trees, we’re also stretching to see the sunlight from God because we feel the need of its energy and warmth.

(3) Tall Trees feed a whole host of other life forms. Insects, birds, lizards, rodents, parasitic plants, mold and fungus — an entire organic ecosystem lives in one tree and is nourished by the food produced from that tree’s use of the sun’s energy. In a parallel way, we may look to a Tall Tree Bible verse for help with one problem or issue, but we are surprised that it blesses our lives and the lives of those around us in many other ways.

(4) Tall Trees are heavy. In fact, the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, Tulare County, CA, is the heaviest living thing in the world (2.7 million lbs.). When we hear our favorite Bible verse, we’re likely to respond, “That’s heavy!” This is exactly why we’re attracted to it. It’s solidly rooted in reality. When we’re floundering, we need something of real substance, not a light, fluffy platitude.

(5) Tall Trees are old. In fact, some of them have been alive for 3,000 years, which means it’s been growing since King David ruled over Israel on the other side of the globe. These Tall Tree Bible verses that are favorite texts of ours today were also favorite texts of Jesus’ disciples, of the Emperor Constantine, of the Reformer Martin Luther and of Evangelist Dwight Moody. They withstand onslaughts of time; true yesterday, today, forever.

(6) Tall Trees never stop growing. That’s a curious thing about the giant sequoias; even after centuries of growing upward and outward, they keep growing until the day they die. If you revisit a Biblical Tall Tree that was a favorite passage when you accepted the Lord twenty years ago, you discover that it’s taller and bigger than you remember. You’ll find more and more layers of meaning and relevance in these Biblical giants as the years of your life go by.

(7) Tall Trees are stimulated to reproduce during life’s forest fires. Giant sequoias don’t over-produce seeds. Some may remain in a cone for up to 20 years and are only released by the intense heat of a destructive forest fire. Then they drop to the ground, germinate and sprout with new vigor in the ash-covered, burned over environment. Just think of how that may apply to your life, when you face what seems to be an all-destructive conflagration. As a last resort, you may remind yourself of your favorite tall Tree Bible verse and find that, through the heat and flames, God has opened the seed of a surprising new life to you.

– Pastor George Van Alstine